WINhouse closes both Edmonton shelters after coronavirus outbreak

WINhouse had to close both of its women’s shelters after seven staff members and one client tested positive for COVID-19.

“I pray that nobody has more than the sniffles or common cold with respect to symptoms and that they don’t pass it on to anybody in their circle,” said Tess Gordey, the executive director at WINhouse.

Although contained to one shelter, officials decided it would be best to close both of them.

“With so many people having to isolate we didn’t have the manpower to keep WIN 2 open,” Gordey said.

They also saw it as an opportunity to have both facilities professionally sanitized, services Gordey said were donated by a local company.

“To ensure that we have a clean start when everybody comes back to work.”

But the closure meant eight families who had sought refuge at the shelters had to leave.

“We put all our clients into alternate accommodations, safe accommodations with outreach support and we’ll be bringing them back within a matter of days,” said Gordey.

Even before restrictions were put in place, WINhouse had developed a plan to keep staff and clients safe.

“And we still got COVID-19 in our house,” Gordey said.

They followed all guidelines set by public health officials, disinfected high-touch areas every two hours and restricted how many staff or clients were in one space at a time.

“We are minimizing the number of people in the dining room for instance at any one time,” said Gordey adding, “We’ve hired a few cooks so that there isn’t a lot of handling and hands in the kitchen area.”

She hopes they’ll be able to open the shelter doors on Oct. 1.

“They got full pay going home so as the staff come back out of isolation then we will slowly bring the clients back.”

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